January 2006

January 31, 2006

IE7 beta 2 preview now live!

Wahoo! I'm super excited to announce that the beta 2 preview release of IE7 is now available on Microsoft.com. We'll also have lots of info over the next few days on the IE Blog. You can also see a video of my boss talking about what's new in IE7 on Channel 9.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Posted January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reading websites on a phone part 2

In my post the other day about websites that reformat webpages for reading on phones, I pulled a bozo move and failed to include Microsoft's offering in this space. Fortunately, Ken pointed this out to me in the comments.

Apparently, it does local search (for places near you) and general web search. I'm having some problems with my mobile phone connection right now, so I can't test it, but you can try it out yourself. Let me know what you think!

http://mobile.msn.com/search/

Posted January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Octopus attack on sub video!

Categories: Random cool stuff

I posted the other day about a giant octopus attacking a mini-sub, but I couldn't find the video. Al found it for me.

Check it out. Lots of inking and trashing around.

Posted January 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 29, 2006

Another person with too much time

Categories: Random cool stuff

I've blogged before about the cool Star Wars fan films out there. They're dorky and amazingly well done, but I think this guy at the Lego Star Wars Project (LSW) takes the cake.

This crazy guy is redoing the original Star Wars movie using Legos. His attention to detail and adherence to the shots of the movie are impressive. So far, he's done 47:11 of the 1:53:41 of the movie, all set to the original soundtrack. You can watch the scenes that are already completed, but you'll need the DivX decoder.

I think I'd slit my wrists after a few hours of building all the models and sets and then animating them frame by frame to sync with the movie. But, this is his hobby, not mine, so more power to him, I guess.

He has lots of company too. Check out Brickfilms for more crazy people making Lego movies. For an old-school remix of Star Wars, check out this ASCII text version.

Posted January 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Pacific Northwest According to Jeff Foxworthy

Categories: Random junk

This little gem has been making its way around the office. There's more truth here than I care to admit.

The Pacific Northwest According to Jeff Foxworthy

1. You know the state flower (Mildew)

2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash.

3. Use the statement "sun break" and know what it means.

4. You know more than 10 ways to order coffee.

5 You know more people who own boats than air conditioners.

6. You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant.

7. You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" Signal.

8. You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain.

9. You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Veneto's.

10. You know the difference between Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon.

11. You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon,
Yakima and Willamette.

12. You consider swimming an indoor sport.

13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food.

14. In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark
- while only working eight-hour days.

15. You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho.

16. You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain,"
and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers."

17. You have no concept of humidity without precipitation

18. You know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind.

19. You can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you cannot see
through the cloud cover.

20. You notice, "The mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it.

21. You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50, but
still wear your hiking boots and parka.

22. You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep the socks on.

23. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain.

24. You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists.

25. You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old
ones after such a long time.

26. You measure distance in hours.

27. You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in the same day.

28. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a
raincoat.

29. You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter,
Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer &Elk season
(Fall).

30. You actually understood these jokes and will probably forward them!

OK, well, I blogged about them instead. Save an email. Use RSS.

(I just showed the list to Michelle. There were some of these that were so true that she didn't even realize why they might be funny until she thought about it for a while.)

Thanks to Jon for sendng this to me.

Posted January 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Chinese New Year!

Categories: Random junk

Gong xi fa cai! (...hong bao na lai of course, for those of you in the know.)

Happy Year of the Dog! While Chinese New Year is steeped in tradition, I don't do too many of them. The boys were happy to get their lucky money in red envelopes (who wouldn't be?), and we'll have a nice dinner tonight. (Should have been last night really. My oyster po' boy at the Seattle Yacht Club last night wasn't very traditional.)

According to ChineseAstrology.com, the Dog is loyal, tenacious, and watchful. 2006 should be a good year for international justice and righting of wrongs. I think we could all use some of that.

More from ChineseAstrology.com:

What to avoid in 2006:
- Guilt-trips (would have/ should have/ could have's)
- Pity-parties (I'll just sit here in the dark by myself)
- Pride ("cutting off one's nose to spite the face")
- Hanging on to dead-end anything (from relationships to clutter)
- Excessive worrying
- Panic (and it's ugly sisters -- anxiety and worry)

What to hold on to in 2006:
- A cause or special purpose
- Old friends who have stood the test of time
- Your Principles
- The Family Circle

The Dog year and those under it's influence are protectors of morals and defenders of the weak. Causes, revolutions and human-rights are on the agenda for the Dog year. The watchful Dog keeps us one step ahead of those who would harm us. However, while a single dose of anticipation is healthy, a double dose can be toxic and result in paranoia, expecting problems around every corner and jumping to conclusions throughout 2006.

Parents can expect to pull their offspring out of a scuffle or two this year. In like kind, these same parents may have to exercise herculean self-control at the workplace when the office bully flexes their muscles. Loyalty in relationships becomes more important than ever this year and best results are achieved by taking the high road in any given situation. Best results are acheieved when worry is transformed into advance thinking and planning.

OK, so now you know. Go have a good year and be safe out there.

Posted January 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Another octopus attack!

Categories: Random cool stuff

octopusattacksminisub.jpg
It seems that giant octopuses don't just attack sharks. Salmon researchers off the west coast of Vancouver Island in Canada caught video of a giant octopus attacking their remotely controlled mini-sub. Although the octopus was huge and the submarine virtually defenseless, the mini-sub managed to escape unharmed by using its thrusters. (I know you were worried...)

In light of this attack, I renew my call for a cessation of hostilities between humans and octopuses. We won't treat you like sushi if you stop eating our subs.

Thanks to Al for the tip.

Posted January 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

January 28, 2006

IE PM at Zoka Coffee

The IE Program Management team (my merry band) took a little break yesterday to learn about coffee at the Zoka Coffee headquarters. First, we learned all about the different kinds of coffee and how it goes from seed to cup. We then learned how to really smell and taste coffee, doing our own cupping. We did similar things with tea. We also learned what it takes to make an amazing latte (this was easily the best latte I've ever had.) Finally, we learned about roasting and the intricacies of getting that right.

It was a very nice break, and the folks at Zoka were very hospitable. (I won't say it was relaxing; we were all buzzing from caffeine the rest of the day.) If you're ever in Seattle, stop by one of their stores. You won't be disappointed.

More photos of our day.

Posted January 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

January 27, 2006

Brokeback Squadron

Categories: Random cool stuff

Not sure why Brokeback Mountain is inspiring so many trailer spoofs, but, damn, they're funny. Craig pointed me to this Top Gun/Brokeback Squadron trailer. Hysterical and very revealing. SFW

Thanks, Craig.

Posted January 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2006

My legs hurt

Categories: Exercise and Racing

After my long run yesterday, I figured I shouldn't run again today, so I went for a bike ride instead (yes, a bike ride on a real bike, outside and everything!)

I took my Trek out for an hour-long spin, riding over the I-90 bridge from Bellevue to Mercer Island, about twelve miles in all. It wasn't a particularly long ride, but it's pretty hilly.

So, it turns out that hills matter. This is obvious, but especially so when you're at the bottom of a big hill. After my first ride, which was twenty miles, I figured twelve would be easy. Well, that first ride was flat; today's wasn't. As I rode down this huge, mile-long hill (Eastgate Way) on the way to the bridge, I thought to myself, "Self, this is going to suck coming back up." And so it did.

I have a lot more strength training to do. My legs are a wreck now between the run and the ride. I was thinking about doing the Chilly Hilly ride next month, but now I'm not so sure.

Still, it was great to get outside and the ride felt good, feelings of near death notwithstanding. I may learn to like riding yet...

Posted January 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Go 'Hawks!

Categories: Random junk

What an amazing win the Seattle Seahawks had over the Carolina Panthers today! It's hard to believe the Hawks are going to the Super Bowl. Awesome, awesome, awesome...

Posted January 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 21, 2006

My first hour+ run

Categories: Exercise and Racing

I did my first run over an hour today (1:02:43 to be exact.) This worked out to be 6.18 miles, easily my longest distance as well. The previous longest run/distance was around :40 minutes/3.5 miles. Average pace works out to be a little over ten minutes a mile -- not too bad for me.

I was afraid that boredom would be an issue, but I had tunes, which seemed to alleviate most of those concerns. I also ran with a water bottle in a hip carrier (first time I've need to carry water.) The weight and the sloshing didn't bug me.

I felt strong through the whole run, even sprinting up to a blistering (for me) 6:20 pace for the last .2 mile. I wasn't sure I could go for an hour/six miles, so I'm actually kind of proud of myself for getting this done. Hopefully, my shins won't fall apart now...

Posted January 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fun Honda ad

Categories: Random cool stuff

This Honda ad is very enjoyable; it's a mouth-sound "orchestra" making the sounds of a Honda. Why can't Microsoft ads be this good?

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.

Posted January 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 20, 2006

Bareback Mountain

Categories: Random junk

This parody video is just wrong... and very funny. NSFW (depending on where you work, I suppose.)

Posted January 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 18, 2006

Reading websites on a phone

Reading web sites on my phone is a bit of a pain. (Note: I'm not responsible for Pocket Internet Explorer -- that's another team...) Most sites simply aren't formatted for the little screens.

Google Mobilizer is a neat site that takes an URL and strips it down so it can be read more easily in a cellphone browser. The only thing I wish it did was create a new URL that I could set as a favorite, so I could immediately jump to the stripped form of all my favorite sites.

Skweezer does this as well and actually does provide the permalink to the stripped site. I like the smaller text (more on the screen), but Google did a better job hiding the navigation menus, letting me see the bulk of the text. Also, Skweezer removed the ads from the test site and inserted their own -- a bit annoying; Google didn't mess with the ads. Still, I like the name Skweezer a lot and may use it just because of that.

Thanks to Lifehacker for the link.

Posted January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Best blonde joke ever

Categories: Random cool stuff

I'm not normally a fan of blonde jokes (ok, who's kidding who), but this, in fact, the best blonde joke ever.

Posted January 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2006

How to read a book

Categories: Books and such

This may strike you as an odd post title and maybe a bit presumptuous, but let me explain. From 1995-1999 or so, I worked on a product called Microsoft Bookshelf, a CDROM title that contained 5-8 reference books, depending on the version and country we were publishing in. I worked on the team during a period of great expansion, when we launched several international versions of Bookshelf. As such, I had to help evaluate many reference books in a short time to determine what special features and difficulties the books might pose as we moved them online. I found the lessons I learned apply not only to reference books, but to many other non-fiction books and the occasional fiction title.

  1. Check the date. This may tell you a lot about how current the book is and may indicate the context in which the book was written.
  2. Look at the Table of Contents. This will give you a quick overview of the whole book.
  3. Flip through the opening pages. There are often explanatory chapters, essays, and other interesting material in the very beginning. In my old Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, there is an explanation of how the entries are made up and a history of the English language essay. (These essays are often great reads, btw.)
  4. Look at the end pages. There is often additional reference content. In my dictionary, there are biographies and geographical place names (affectionately referred to as "bios and geos" and often used to pad out the entry count of a dictionary) and a small manual of style. Other works will have an index (good to see how it is arranged) and appendices (useful to see how extensive they are and how much the author is counting on you to read them to make sense of the chapters.)
  5. Finally, flip through the main body of the book now and get a sense for a typical bit of content -- an entry, a paragraph, etc. Check the tone (do you like the style?). Look for length and completeness of the text. Check out the number and quality of the illustrations. For reference works, you can check a few test articles to see how up-to-date the book is. For instance, in a dictionary, look for words that are relatively new like bird flu or instant message or that have new meanings like text as a verb. In an atlas or encyclopedia, look to see if the map of India has Mumbai or Bombay.

In just a few minutes, you can get a pretty complete picture of the book. I find that this approach helps me with non-fiction books that aren't reference as well; I have a better handle on what to expect and what resources the author has given me.

Anyway, try it out on your next read!

Posted January 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

My declining price

Categories: Kids

Apparently, Michael (5) is tired of waiting for the big trade. He's removed the requirement that the eagle has hair and will accept a bald eagle now.

I'm in trouble now.

Posted January 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Five weird habits

Categories: Random junk

I've been tagged by Chris (who was tagged by Lara) to list five weird habits of mine. As Chris explains, there are some rules that apply to said tagging.

The first player of the game starts with the topic,

Posted January 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 15, 2006

Swim/bike brick

Categories: Exercise and Racing

I did my first swim/bike brick yesterday; this is a swim workout followed by a bike ride. I did a pretty intense swim. My main set was 400m, 200m, 100m, and 50m at my fastest pace (albeit with a lot of rest in between). I haven't swum that fast for a long time.

I had a few moments of "flow", the semi-nirvana state of everything working right; my stroke felt fast and efficient and my turns were crisp. Inevitably, my arms would get tired and my lungs would ache, disappating the "flow". I'm still a lot slower than I was during my high school swimming days, still, the swim felt good.

When I went to the locker room to change for the biking, I found myself a little dazed. I made a bunch of big mistakes like putting my biking pants on backwards and then my shirt on inside-out. I had a hard time concentrating. I had read about the difficulties people have during their transitions in triathlons, but this was my first real experience.

Once I got on the bike (a stationery spinning bike, actually), I found my legs didn't work quite right and everything seemed harder than normal. I don't normally start my rides already tired, so I suppose this is to be expected. After a few minutes, things settled in, and I felt OK. Watching TV (Seahawks game highlights -- go Hawks! -- and the first part of Total Recall) helped pass the time. I threw in a bit of weight lifting afterwards for good measure.

I wasn't sure I could swim for 30min and ride for 60 so it felt good to finish it without feeling like I needed to die. Those will be longer than the times I need to sustain for a sprint triathlon. I just need to be able to run 5K after doing the swim and bike... And I definitely need to practice transitions.

Posted January 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An eagle, a monkey, and a goldfish

Categories: Kids

I'm not sure how the discussion started, but after some intense negotiations, Michael (5) has agreed with Michelle that he'd trade me in for an eagle, a monkey, and a goldfish. He figures they'd be more fun than I am, although he admitted the goldfish wouldn't do much.

When asked if he meant a bald eagle, he said, "No, I want one with hair." I figure I'm safe for a while since finding a hairy eagle will take a while.

Michael went through some packages that arrived yesterday looking for his animals. He was visibly disappointed when his box didn't show up.

I guess I should be flattered that he wants three animals in exchange for me. My boss keeps threatening to trade me for a carton of cigarettes.

Posted January 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Top 100 Speeches

Categories: Random cool stuff

In looking for an audio copy of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, I stumbled upon a great trove of speeches on the Top 100 Speeches website.

According to the site, this compilation contains the full text of the top 100 American political speeches of the 20th century "on the basis of social and political impact, and rhetorical artistry." 67 of the speeches have all or part of the speech available in audio form as well.

While I'm sure there is room for disagreement in the content and order of the speeches, the ones I've listened to so far have been great examples of superb speeches, ones that move people and demonstrate the art of oratory. (Ronald Reagan's address after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was particularly moving for me. I remember that day very vividly. The speech got me all choked up again.)

I'd love to be that good some day.

Posted January 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Real Change

Categories: Random cool stuff

Real Change

I'm a strong proponent of helping people work their way out of poverty. In my view, handout charity is worthless for long-lasting change.

As such, I'm a big fan of Real Change Newspaper, a Seattle organization that helps 200 homeless vendors out of poverty. The vendors buy the papers for 35 cents and sell them for a dollar, keeping all the profits. The paper itself has improved consistently over the years, with good articles and a unique editorial view, certainly different from the mainstream press. I buy a paper from a vendor whenever I can, even if the paper is a little old.

This program combines my key elements of a good program: it's work based, it offers value to the contributor, and the contributor voluntarily chooses to participate. Handouts, tax-based programs, and straight donations don't meet these goals.

I don't always agree with the paper, but I heartily support their goals of giving people a hand up, not a hand out (yes, cute turn of phrase.) I strongly encourage you to buy a paper when you can too.

Posted January 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 14, 2006

My favorite photos of 2005

Categories: Photos

Chinese Mountains

This was not a good year for photography for me. While I have a lot of photos, they're mostly snapshots. The few somewhat artsy photos I took were virtually all on business trips I took. I didn't make time in 2005 to go and shoot, and it shows. I'll have to do better in 2006.

Anyway, here are my favorite photos of 2005 (that I shot).

My friend Richard clearly had a better year (as usual). Here is his 2005 collection.

(Note, as you may have noticed, I don't post photos of the kids here. Too many weirdos out there. Let me know if you want access to the family photos.)

Posted January 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 7, 2006

A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Categories: Books and such

Cover of A History of the World in 6 GlassesI got a great book from my in-laws for Christmas this year that combines my interest in odd pivots on history with my passion for beer, wine, and whisky. It's called A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage.

The author chronicles how beer, wine, coffee, tea, spirits, and cola impacted world history. For instance, tea provided safer water by both requiring boiling of the water plus the antiseptic properties of tea itself; this allowed larger populations to grow safely with a minimized threat of dysentery. It, of course, also fueled trade between England and China, ultimately culminating in the Opium War and the wholesale pushing of drugs on the Chinese (since there was very little the Chinese wanted from the British aside from gold, silver, and opium in exchange for tea.) Tea also heavily impacted the history of America. Taxes on tea by the British (and efforts to stomp out weathy American tea smugglers) helped fuel the American independence movement including the infamous Boston Tea Party.

Among other things, I found it interesting that all of these were originally used for medicinal purposes. For instance, wine was used to clean wounds more effectively than water until relatively recently since it's free of pathogens and has natural antibacterial agents. And, of course, the story of Coca Cola's origins as patent-medicine are well-known.

Cover of The Devil's CupIt's also fascinating how a lot of attitudes and practices today are artifacts of old or even ancient customs. As an example, the black tea that was imported into England was often heavily adulterated by middle men to increase profits. The addition of milk and sugar helped conceal the off flavors, so that even today with pure teas available, the English still drink tea with milk and sugar. And, closer to my experience, the original symposia were wine drinking parties where people gathered to debate and discuss the topics of the day. Modern symposiums are still certainly drinking parties with some debate and discussion.

The topic of coffee's role in fueling the Enlightenment, the formation of such London companies as Lloyd's, and the rise of the French Revolution are touched on in this book as well. The role of coffee is covered even more deeply in The Devil's Cup : A History of the World According to Coffee by Stewart Lee Allen. This is a bit lighter book that I read last year but didn't get around to blogging about.

Anyway, A History of the World in 6 Glasses is a good read and worth enjoying with a cup of tea. Or beer, wine, whisky, coffee, or Coke.

Posted January 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 1, 2006

Eating locally

Categories: Food and Drink

I've blogged before about the advantages of eating locally, especially via the coop farm we belong to, the Root Connection.

Life Begins at 30 published a pretty good list of reasons why it's advantageous to eat locally as well. Some of the arguments are stronger than others, but it's a good list anyway. Perhaps more interesting is the "Eat Local Challenge" he espouses. January in Seattle might not be the best time to start this challenge, but it's an interesting idea. I'll have to think about it.

10 reasons to eat local food

Posted January 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Resolution Run

Categories: Exercise and Racing

Tony, Bruce, and Malcolm after the Resolution Run

To start off the new year right, Bruce, Malcolm, and I ran in the Resolution Run 5K at Magnuson Park, an old naval air station here in Seattle on Lake Washington. It was reasonably warm for January in Seattle (high 40's) with no rain, but it was bit windy -- in our face for the outbound leg. The course was flat (a nice change), so there was really no excuse for a slow race (other than being fat, old, and slow with aching shins).

Bruce and I both ran personal bests today. I finally crashed through the 27 minute barrier, running 26:35 (actually 26:24 if you subtract the 11 seconds it took to get from where I started to the starting line.) I felt pretty good through the whole race, although my average pulse is still higher than I'd like (183 actual).

This was Malcolm's first run with us and his first 5K in a long time; he came in all humble thinking he'd run nine minute miles and wound up crushing me by 20-30 seconds. Sandbagger.

We skipped the optional "trip-n-dip" into Lake Washington at the end. The 47 degree water didn't sound very inviting. The beer and chili afterwards, however, was very nice. All-in-all, it was a great start to 2006.

I'm laying out my goals for 2006 now and will post them here shortly. I think they will include a sprint triathlon, the STP (Seattle-to-Portland bike race - 200 some odd miles over one or two days), and a bunch more running races. I may move up to 8K and 10K races; I'm not sure if I really want to push for a half-marathon. We'll see.

Resolution Run path
Click for a larger view of the route. Ignore the finishing time. Not sure why it's so much shorter. Cool image generated by SportTracks.

Posted January 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

Happy New Year!

Categories: Random junk

Here's to a great 2006!

Posted January 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)